Machynlleth – the heart of sustainability in Wales

Machynlleth and sustainable living go hand in hand. In fact, an article in the Guardian once stated “if any place in Britain could be called its sustainable ­capital, it’s Mach”.

It’s not hard to see why as the market town lies at the heart of the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere Reserve. It’s the only Biosphere in Wales, covering an area of 840 sq km which includes part of Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Powys County Council areas as well as part of Snowdonia National Park. 

UNESCO Biospheres recognise not only the area’s natural beauty, heritage and wildlife but also the contribution of its residents towards a greener world. Key aims of the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere are protecting wildlife, their habitats and the wider environment, as well as encouraging sustainable living and a greener economy.

Over the years Machynlleth has attracted residents who wish to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle and be surrounded by like-minded people. Visitors from Wales and beyond take advantage of the wide range of cultural, environmental and learning opportunities in the area. It’s clear sustainable living is at the forefront of Machynlleth residents’ minds, with the Town Council the first in Wales to declare a “climate emergency” after being presented with a petition signed by a quarter of the town’s population. Many other councils across Wales have since followed. 

A number of environmental focused social enterprises are also based in Machynlleth, notably Ecodyfi. Since 1998 they have been promoting renewable energy, responsible tourism and community development within the town and across the Dyfi Valley.

Centre for Alternative Technology

Located three miles north of Machynlleth, the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) cements the area’s ecological credentials. For over 45 years the charity has aimed to inspire, inform and enable people to live a greener lifestyle, with a more recent focus on how we can all contribute towards a zero-carbon Britain.

Located in a disused slate quarry, CAT is an ecological marvel overlooking Snowdonia National Park. Make a trip to their visitor centre and explore their beautiful organic gardens, informative displays and exhibitions designed to engage the whole family. Witness working examples of renewable energy, explore the sustainably managed woodlands through three trails of varying lengths and enjoy the view with a picnic or have a bite to eat at the vegetarian cafe. 

There are several other attractions worth a visit if you’re interested in seeing how wildlife is protected within the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere. These include:


An RSPB nature reserve located between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth with stunning views of Snowdonia and the Cambrian mountains. Depending on the time of year you visit, look out for ducks and geese in the colder months, or lapwings, redshanks and some very special butterflies in the summer.

Dyfi Wildlife Centre 

Home of the Dyfi Osprey Project at the Cors Dyfi Nature Reserve near Machynlleth, in a stunning new carbon-positive building. It’s one of the largest projects of its kind in the world. Beginning in 2009, the aims of the project are to support and conserve the osprey population in Wales. Spend some time at the 360 Observatory which provides superb views of the Osprey nest located just 190m away along with panoramic views of the Dyfi Valley. 

If creating a sustainable environment is important to you, then a visit to Machynlleth is a must-do!